lewis hamilton red bull mercedes f1

Inside Line: Short-memory Hamilton disrespects his great F1 team

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In the wake of Sir Lewis Hamilton’s headline-grabbing moan that Red Bull have the fastest Formula 1 car ever, if I had an (unlikely) one-on-one sit-down with him, this piece would serve as notes of brotherly advice I would profer.

After Mercedes (and the rest of the F1 field barring Aston Martin) were humiliated by a Red Bull one-two in Bahrain at the season opener, and two weeks later at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton had the gumption to say: “I’ve definitely never seen a car so fast. When we were fast, we weren’t that fast.”

Respectfully, I beg to differ. Indeed the Red Bull RB19 is an incredible piece of kit conjured by that genius Adrian Newey and his design team at Milton Keynes, but F1 fans can’t forget that for nearly a decade Mercedes produced for Hamilton (and his various teammates during that spell) cars that were equally, if not more dominant.

Mercedes stats since they began their eight-year F1 reign in 2014, are almost unbelievable in eight years they scored 116 GP victories, wrapped up eight F1 constructors’ titles, and seven drivers’ titles; six of those going Hamilton’s way, the one in 2016 going astray to teammate at the time, Nico Rosberg.

Stats provide a reminder of how good the cars that Mercedes produced in recent times:

  • 2014 W05 16 wins out of 19 races, two titles;
  • 2015 W06 16 wins out of 19 races, two titles;
  • 2016 W07 19 wins out of 21 races, two titles;
  • 2017 W08 12 wins out of 20 races, two titles;
  • 2018 W09 11 wins out of 21 races, two titles;
  • 2019 W10 15 wins out of 21 races, two titles;
  • 2020 W11 13 wins out of 17 races, two titles;
  • 2021 W12 10 wins out of 22 races, one title. [Shoulda been two…]

Also, worth remembering our 2019 in-season F1 testing in Barcelona headline: BARCELONA TEST DAY 2: MAZEPIN MAKES IT LOOK VERY EASY, the Russian driver ending his day in the cockpit of the Mercedes W10, only a couple of tenths down on the team’s regular driver then, Valtteri Bottas.

Quoting from that report: “The W10 is plug-and-play even for a driver of Mazepin’s capabilities and inexperience. Of course, no discredit to him at all but he made it look very easy.”

Maybe Red Bull should give the Russian former F1 driver a test in the RB19 for a proper back-to-back…

Seriously, no one can forget that period of ruthless Sunday monotony of Mercedes dominance that turned F1 into a total bore-fest, so much so that the serial World Champs appeared apologetic for winning, the negative blowback from their domination was a constant talking point in the paddock.

Such was their superiority in the early stages of the new turbo-hybrid era, is is said Mercedes helped Ferrari get their PU to an acceptable level of performance according to none other than F1 supremo at the time – Bernie Ecclestone – who had a handle on every move in the paddock during his iron-fisted rule over the sport.

Bernie claimed: “Mercedes helped them, but obviously not enough!”

Furthermore, we reported at the time, and the opinion remains, the Mercedes W12 unleashed for the final four races of the ill-fated 2021 season – Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi – in my book, appeared to be the mightiest F1 car I ever witnessed in action.

Cutting to the chase: irrespective of his incredible achievements and deserved status, Sir Lewis is the last driver on the grid entitled to moan, lament, bemoan, or whatever, his plight of not having the best F1 car on the grid in his hands.

For the sake of appreciation and respect for an F1 team that has delivered so much, some things should not be said

In fact, putting my HR hat on, Hamilton’s attitude shows scant respect for the 1,000 or so Mercedes workers who delivered bullet-proof, rocket-ship cars for him to win 82 times. Of those thousand, only a handful led the team to the dark hole they find themselves in, and those that followed as per their job descriptions, don’t deserve to be kicked when they are down by the Champ.

After all, he needs them to make it happen, as he himself so often points out. Still We Rise And Fall Together, not?

Exacerbating the matter is that Hamilton’s well-being always seems to be a high-anxiety priority for his boss Toto Wolff, who tends to take a cue from his star driver, thus he too showed little tact (etc etc) when all but drooling over the Red Bull RB19, as if his factory never delivered the like.

As Wolff said of the next significant upgrade for the Mercedes W14: “If that car looks like a Red Bull … I don’t care. I will have no shame if it’s quick.” Hardly, inspirational leadership of a team that prides itself in leading the way.

Whatever the case, if I were a Mercedes F1 factory worker, mechanic, engineer, secretary, media worker, commercial person or whoever, I would hardly be enamoured after being thrown under the bus in such manner by the Man they made King, and their Big Boss.

Thus on behalf of Mercedes’ 1,000 or so unsung heroes, I shall suggest a tweak to Sir Lewis’ ill-advised observation: “I’ve definitely never seen a car so fast. We were once that fast too if not faster, thanks to my people at the factory we will get there again.Or something similar.

This brings up the second point for Sir Lewis Hamilton to ponder: George Russell

Inadvertently or not, Hamilton has taken the spotlight off his own so-so performances over the past two seasons relative to his younger Merc teammate. Last year Lewis (6th) was beaten by team newcomer George Russell (4th) in the F1 drivers standings.

But Hamilton out-qualified his teammate more times last year, indicating that even at 38 years of age he still has the speed of a highly-rated driver a decade and a half his junior. It is the 25-year-old Hamilton has to focus on beating while Mercedes try and sort out their package, a new concept which they are bullish about is reportedly set to break cover soon. Imola some say, others say before then…

The tale of the tape thus far, after two F1 races in 2023, Russell out-qualified Hamilton in Bahrain by a smidgeon and then blitzed him in Jeddah by four-tenths of a second. Lewis finished fourth in the season opener with George sixth. Last Sunday in race two, the seven-time F1 World Champ was fifth and the one-time GP winner fourth.

The fact that Hamilton remains motivated after last season’s midfield reality check is admirable, and with the knowledge that he has another season of pain ahead makes, makes it astounding. He has nothing to prove, less so driving machinery not worthy of his talent.

Whereas Russell has the hunger and the drive that Lewis long ago showed, has since long forgotten as he carved his own unprecedented path to F1 immortality and universal respect. But time marches on for everyone.

Currently, in the real world, while performance is being hunted by Mercedes, Hamilton should focus on beating teammate Russell more often, known as Rule #1 of a race driver: Beat Thy Teammate, Hard!

When doing so, perhaps then he has cause to call for more performance.

Until then, I suggest Hamilton has little right to bemoan what others now have, utter DOMINANCE. A commodity he ‘owned’ for most of his F1 career with Mercedes.

And with the utmost respect, the final bit of advice I would swing at Sir Lewis, is: Do what you do best: Drive very fast. Beat Georgie-boy every Saturday and Sunday, but please stop with the self-pity. It’s unbecoming of a GOAT.